What's the best way to get five people, their camping gear and five touring bikes from Washington, DC to Fort Lauderdale and back again?
After nearly a year of planning I'm finally taking my dream bike tour in December. We're using an Adventure Cycling map and starting from Fort Lauderdale and riding down through the Keys and back across to Fort Lauderdale after taking the ferry form Key West to Fort Myers
. I've done a fair amount of bike touring, but never a trip that's started and ended so far from home and I'm totally stumped about how best to transport the tourists, our gear and our bikes from DC to Florida.
The three options I've figured out are as follows (with pros and cons):
Drive from DC to Fort Lauderdale with our bikes.
Very slightly cheaper than flying. We wouldn't have to take our bikes apart. Roadtrips are fun.
: Would add an extra day to the trip on each end. Where would we put the car while we're riding? Will hotels let you store a car for a week and a half if you have a reservation on either end of the trip? Are there other spots in Fort Lauderdale where you could leave a car safely for that long?
Fly with our bikes checked as baggage on the plane.
: Would have our bikes immediately upon landing.
: Expensive (between $50 and $200 each way depending on airline!). Would have to disassemble and box up bikes. Difficult to get boxed bikes to and from the airport.
Have our bikes shipped to a bike shop or our hotel in Fort Lauderdale before flying down.
: Less expensive than checking bikes as luggage. LBS could help reassemble our bikes.
: Dependent on reliability of FedEx. Would have to disassemble and reassemble bikes. Would have to ship bikes early as the trip begins on a Sunday (no FedEx delivery) due to campsite availability.
Which of these options makes the most economic and logistical sense? If you have traveled with your bike, which would you recommend? Which would you avoid? If we check or ship our bikes how amenable are hotels to storing empty bike boxes for a week or so until we get back? Or would we have to acquire a new box from an LBS in Fort Lauderdale for the trip home? Are there any bike tourist-friendly hotels or awesome local bike shops in Fort Lauderdale that could assist with these logistics?
I can't wait for this trip, but the details of getting there are starting to give me heart burn. Help me, bike tourists of AskMe!
Bonus Question: Before I leave I'll be taking my beloved touring bike
in for a tune up. Is there anything in particular I should have the bike shop guys look at and/or potentially upgrade before we depart?